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Travel Notes: Asolo

Surrounded by ancient walls and dominated by a charming fortress, the small town of Asolo sits atop a hill in the Treviso area, just an hour away from the more bustling Venice.

A Medieval fortress

Enclosed within the ancient walls that branch off from the Rocca, a Medieval fortress built in the 12th century, Asolo boasts several arched passages leading to the city centre. Once built for protection, the walls surrounding the borgo at present make the perfect charming entrance to discover this unique city.

The Zen Fountain

A charming fountain welcomes visitors entering from the southern entrance of the city, a well deserved point of refreshment for those who face the climb up the hill. On the day we visited Asolo, the sun was shining bright in the sky, drawing harsh plays of lights and shadows on the animalesque decorations. The fountain was built in 1571 by the Zen Family to bring water to their residence. The Municipality agreed to the construction only after the commitment of the Zen family to build the fountain for the benefit of the wayfarers who came to the village after a long journey.

The main square

Surrounded by bars, cafés and restaurants is the main square of Asolo. Kissed by the warm rays of the sun, locals and tourists chat with aperitivo in hands and enjoy la dolce vita, careless of the passing of time.

The castle of Queen Caterina Cornaro

The Queen Caterina Cornaro of Cyprus took possession of the area in exchange for the cessation of her island to the Venetian Republic. During her reign augis an elegant court sprang up, dedicated to a life of culture and ease. Unfortunately little remains of her castle today, though the ruins are nevertheless imbued with great charm and fascination.

Women of Asolo

Caterina Cornaro isn't the only woman famous around here. The famous actress Eleonora Duse has in fact a theatre and a hotel dedicated to her; and travel writer and explorer Freya Stark, after spending some time in Asolo as a kid, decided to move back to the city when she retired in the 1970s. Her home was built on the foundations of an old Roman forum, Villa Freya is hidden behind tall gates and surrounded by the most stunning garden of roses, irises and wildflowers.

The Cathedral

Built on the site of Roman ruins, the ancient Duomo of Asolo houses works by Italian painters Lorenzo Lotto and Jacopo Bassano. The facade boasts golden decorations and gothic details. Next to it is are the porticos that lead to the upper part of the town.

Do Mori Modern Trattoria

Do Mori is a family-run modern trattoria where you can eat traditional dishes from the Veneto region, but with a modern and alternative spin. Besides local food, this restaurant features fabulous views on the dreamy hills surrounding Asolo.

The hillside walk

The fortress dating back to the period of the Ezzelini rule was restored at the end of the last century, and offers a fascinating walk through the surrounding hillside: from the fortress to Borgo Casella with its wholly Medieval appearance, we proceed along to the Foresto Vecchio until the house of the musician Francesco Malipiero and the 14th century church of San Angelo.

The view from the castle

I understand why Italian poet Giosuè Carducci called Asolo “the town with one hundred horizons”. Observing the surrounding area from the castle you can glimpse corners from different sides of the city and notice how their beauty is preserved even if thousand years have passed.


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